Neuronal nuclear alterations in dentatorubral-pallidoluysian atrophy: ultrastructural and morphometric studies of the cerebellar granule cells

Brain Res. 2001 Nov 16;919(1):12-9. doi: 10.1016/s0006-8993(01)02986-9.


Dentatorubral-pallidoluysian atrophy (DRPLA) is an autosomal dominant neurodegenerative disease caused by a CAG repeat expansion, resulting in ubiquitinated inclusions and diffuse accumulation of mutant atrophin-1 in the neuronal nuclei in many regions of the central nervous system. In the cerebellar cortex, such nuclear abnormalities occur in the granule cells. In the present study, we performed ultrastructural and morphometric analyses on the nuclei of the cerebellar granule cells from eight patients with DRPLA (four with juvenile-onset disease and four with adult-onset disease) in an attempt to obtain further insight into the neuronal nuclear alterations that occur in CAG-repeat diseases. Ultrastructurally, all patients had intranuclear filamentous inclusions (NIIs, neuronal intranuclear inclusions) and nuclear membrane indentations (NMIs) in some of their granule cells, and chromatin tended to be sparse in the nucleoplasm of the affected nuclei. No such changes were observed in the granule cells of four control subjects. In all patients there was an association between NIIs and NMIs, and nuclei with NIIs and/or NMIs were larger than those without such changes. However, the nuclear enlargement was not due solely to the NIIs - even nuclei without NIIs or NMIs were larger in the patients than in the controls. In the DRPLA patients, there was a significant inverse correlation between the cross-sectional area of the nuclei and the disease duration. These findings indicate that NIIs and NMIs are features in the disease and occur in association with each other, and that nuclear enlargement - the degree of which may decrease with time after onset of the illness - is a more prevalent abnormality than the formation of NIIs or NMIs.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cell Nucleus / pathology*
  • Cell Nucleus / ultrastructure
  • Cerebellum / pathology*
  • Cerebellum / ultrastructure
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inclusion Bodies / pathology
  • Inclusion Bodies / ultrastructure
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Middle Aged
  • Myoclonic Epilepsies, Progressive / pathology*
  • Neurons / pathology*
  • Neurons / ultrastructure